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The Perception of Average
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Is it not the mantra that "C students run the world?" If so, why is the word "average" so negative? 

Our colleague over at Beneath the Brand wrote a nice article about the Keds campaign claiming that there "is no average girl."

The human mind is fascinating. If there is no such thing as average, then that means there is no real way to compare one element against another. We like norms, yet we fight against them. We appreciate standards, yet we hate them when we fall outside of them.

How interesting.

If there is no average girl, like the Keds campaign suggests, then that means one girl could not be compared against another. In theory, that is fantastic. Of course, each person on this Earth would love to be considered completely unique.

But human behavior doesn't work that way.

Humans function the best they can when we are able to compartmentalize and categorize the data we see around us. We group things together in order to not only save space in our brains, but to be able to quickly recall things by associating them with other elements. The Nike swoosh is associated with shoes, athletics, and the Greek god of victory. "Just Do It" is associated with basketball, athletes, and a mantra of not letting your fears hold you back.

"Average" apparently is associated with not sticking out, being a part of the crowd, and not being exciting enough to grab attention.

However, couldn't it be argued that average is necessary for us to discover a spectrum? Mathematicians love averages and medians because they help them determine a value based on the performance of a crowd. Averages help identify the over-performers and the under-performers.

Unfortunately, the whole world cannot be filled with over-performers, but the consuming public refuses to hear that logic.

Instead, they want to ask the AdLand community to tell them how awesome, beautiful, needed, necessary, unique, and special they are. Then, when AdLand either gives them a dose of reality or goes too far into the land of fantasy, they get upset.

Again, human nature is fascinating.

We have no issue with average. The majority of consumers are average. At best. But there is nothing wrong with that. Disillusionment comes when we are consistently pumped with fanatical notions that we mean so much more than we really do, only to find that conclusion ourselves. But goodness forbid that AdLand tells you.

Perhaps we're wrong. It can be a good thing that no one thinks they are average, so they will consistently strive to be better than average. But we don't want those who simply achieve average to give up, either.

We enjoy the point that no one should have a goal to be just average, but if it happens, that is certainly not a bad place to be.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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